Woods pleased with ball-striking; 2 back in Boston

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 1, 2012, 11:34 pm

NORTON, Mass. – His work almost done for the day, Tiger Woods shook his head as he strode over the bridge in front of the 18th green at TPC Boston. He muttered something to himself, and then ripped at the brim of his white Nike hat, the way a pitcher does after surrendering a late-inning home run.

Moments earlier, from 106 yards, Woods had ballooned a wedge into the wind on the par-5 finishing hole and come up short of the green. Woefully short. Afterward, he grumbled that, “I know better than that,” and it took a nifty flop shot just to escape with par.

It was another frustrating result in a round full of them – or, you know, as much displeasure as one can muster during a 3-under 68 that left Woods only two shots back at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

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Indeed, save for that miscalculation on 18, Woods has continued to pummel TPC Boston into submission with a tactical approach that shows off his revamped and dynamic long game. Though it was a similarly impressive ball-striking display, he walked off the course Saturday with a score four shots worse than the day before, when he rattled off six consecutive birdies during a first-round 64.

Note the similarities between the two rounds.

On Friday, he hit 10 of 14 fairways, missed only two greens and required 28 putts.

On Saturday, he hit 10 of 14 fairways – a few of the misses by just a few feet – missed only three greens and required 30 putts. Dig further, however, and it reveals that Woods missed five putts inside 10 feet in a 10-hole span, beginning on the par-5 seventh. All but one of those putts were for birdie.

“You’ve just got to let it balance itself out,” Woods shrugged afterward, “because yesterday I made everything. Today was one of those days where I had some good looks, missed them, but didn’t feel like I was really rolling it correctly.”

As discouraging as that stretch was, Woods said something clicked after the 15-foot birdie miss on No. 13. Per usual, “I just got my lines organized,” he said.

At 10-under 132, Woods sits only two back of Rory McIlroy and one behind 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen. Woods will play with Ryan Moore in the penultimate pairing during Sunday’s third round.

That test, strangely enough, will tell us more about Woods’ game than the 64-68 start. His 2012 season has demonstrated, in abundance, that he has no problem starting tournaments; in fact, his pre-cut scoring average of 69.65 is third-best on Tour.

Yet, for whatever reason – cold putter, nerves, fatigue, whatever – that superb play hasn’t translated to the weekend. (Or, if adapted to this rare case, the final two rounds.) Woods’ third-round scoring average (70.62) ranks 59th on Tour, which is fine, except on the final day he’s been even worse: 70.83. That’s 73rd-best on Tour, and certainly head-scratching stuff for arguably the game’s greatest closer.

Those weekend woes have surfaced in some of the year’s biggest tournaments, too.

His 75-73 weekend at the U.S. Open dropped him from a share of the lead to T-21.

His 70-73 weekend at the British Open prevented him from ever mounting a serious challenge.

His 74-72 weekend at the PGA Championship sent him skidding out of contention.

And just last week, his 72-76 weekend at The Barclays, one on of his favorite tracks (Bethpage Black), may have been one of the strangest yet.

That’s relevant now because anything less than another pair of red numbers here may not be good enough – especially with a frontrunner like McIlroy. Unlike Woods, the Northern Irishman has been at his best this season when the weekend arrives – ranking sixth and 15th, respectively, in third- and fourth-round scoring average.

Only one player stands between Woods and the leader, increasing the likelihood of another Rory-Tiger showdown – which, after playing together for the first time in a Tour event last week at Bethpage Black, feels a bit like a rematch in the BCS title game.

Perhaps because of TPC Boston’s favorable setup for long hitters, Woods has a history of high-profile tilts at this venue: a loss to Vijay Singh in 2004 that forfeited his No. 1 ranking; revenge against Singh in ’06 with a closing 63; and then a down-to-the-wire defeat to Phil Mickelson in ’07.

But if we’re in line for another star-studded matchup, it’ll depend largely on the state of Woods’ much-maligned flat stick. An answer should come by Sunday night. 

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.

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Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3, Tiger Woods

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:45 pm

After returning to competition at the Hero World Challenge in December 2016, Woods started the new year with an ambitious slate of tournament starts as he eyed his first full season since 2013. But he made it only three rounds, looking rusty en route to a missed cut at Torrey Pines before withdrawing abruptly in Dubai.

The “spasms” that led to that withdrawal turned out to be something far more serious, as Woods underwent his fourth and most invasive back surgery in April, a lumbar fusion. It brought with it an extensive rehabilitation, and at the Presidents Cup in September Woods humored the prospect that he might never again play competitive golf.

At Liberty National he also faced some scrutiny for an off-course incident from months prior. In May he was arrested for suspicion of DUI, an incident that produced a startling roadside video of an intoxicated Woods struggling to follow instructions from the arresting officer after driving erratically.

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While he was not drinking at the time, Woods was found to have a mix of several prescription medications in his system, including multiple painkillers. He checked himself into a private drug treatment program in July to address his dependency issues, and in October he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

But the incident was barely a memory when Woods again made a return to competition in the Bahamas at the tournament he hosts. This time around he exceeded nearly every expectation, twice shooting 4-under 68 while tying for ninth among the 18-man field. Having re-tooled his swing following fusion surgery, Woods appeared relaxed, happy and healthy while briefly taking the lead during the tournament’s second round.

What lies ahead for Woods in 2018 remains uncertain, as the stop-and-start nature of this past season serves as a cautionary tale. But after a harrowing arrest and another serious surgery, he seems once again focused on his game, intent on chasing down a new crop of elite talent, some of whom are barely more than half his age.

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:30 pm